Post last updated: August 13th, 2018
I made a trip to Lowes. In this day of high gas prices, I can afford to go only twice a month. Both of the Lowes on my side of town are ten miles away. I have two Home Depots less than 5 miles away and I have to pass a third one to get to Lowes. But here’s the catch – Home Depot doesn’t have a Down-and-Out-but-Not-Quite-Dead Plant Table.
On my tight budget, new plants must come from the nearly dead table. I’ve had any number of these bargain plants die on me but I suck up the loss because I am so grateful to get new plants I might be able to resurrect. Wonder of wonders, I found four succulents that had been allowed to dry out to such an extent that the plants were all but falling out of their two inch containers. Matter of fact, one of them with doomahickeys for four little plants was missing a plant. Badly stressed, I’ll be lucky to resurrect these just-about-goners.
You will recall that I was inspired by Nancy J. Ondra’s book, Foliage: Astonishing Color and Texture Beyond Flowers (2007), “to look with fresh eyes” at foliage. This resulted in my planting a few succulents into my landscape. The “fresh eyes” concept made me go back to Debra Lee Baldwin’s book, Designing With Succulents (2007), to take another look at the ideas she presented for planting the landscape with succulents. Ondra’s book was about foliage, in general, with succulents casually mentioned here and there. I felt that I had somehow missed something with Baldwin’s book. I’d like to figure out a way to get more succulents into my landscape. Succulents are weird and creepy looking. Alien.
I’ve felt this way about succulents since November 2003 when I started keeping a Reading Journal because I have no memory. At that time, I was reading (or looking at the pictures) of Yvonne Cave’s 1997 book, The Succulent Garden: A Practical Gardening Guide. In my journal, I said: “This had some really scary plants in it. The kind you might see in a movie like The Dark Crystal or Neverending Story – plants likely to reach out and slap you around, lick you, or lift themselves up by the roots and chase you halfway across your worst nightmare.” I scanned a few of the photos, too, to make sure I wouldn’t forget the totality of their ability to induce terror. One had a huge bulbous trunk and another one looked like it had snakes hanging off of it. It was the Garden of Eden gone so horribly wrong that neither Toto nor a pair of ruby red slippers would offer any sort of saving grace after the sun went down.
So I’m reading the preface of Baldwin’s Designing With Succulents and what does she admit? “Fleshy green monsters in Patrick Anderson’s (Fallbrook, California) garden look like they might snap him up if he turns his back … (they) pierce the sky like exotic torchbearers, hot orange against cool blue … sprawl like squids, or explode upward like fistfuls of knives.” Clearly, my fearful imagination about succulents is shared.
Baldwin further admitted “During the next few years, I incorporated more and more succulents into my garden.” Is that where I’m headed? Becoming a drive-by tourist destination for the locals who want to gawk at my aliens?
I can’t wait for Baldwin’s next book, A Beginner’s Guide to Succulents, which Timber Press is releasing sometime next year. I need help and I’ve got questions!
In the meantime, she’s got some new YouTube videos for you weird and alien fans:
How to Make a Simple Succulent Centerpiece (2.5 min.)
How to Grow Succulents — AGAVES (6 min.)